Miscellaneous Ramblings

Eudora Successors Face Off: Eudora 8 Working Well, MailForge Almost Ready to Ship

Charles Moore - 2009.05.28 - Tip Jar

Wither MailForge?

Or perhaps you might be asking, "What's MailForge?"

If you've been following the Eudora email client succession saga even loosely, the name Odysseus may be familiar in the context of a new email application that Infinity Data Systems has been developing since late 2007, designed to be a feature-faithful replacement for the classic Eudora app its fans know and love.

Since our last report in 2008, IDS has changed the application's name from Odysseus to MailForge. Why? IDS says there are several reasons.

First, they say Odysseus was never intended to be anything more than a code name for the project until a more suitable name could be found. Secondly, Google, et al. - Odysseus is already widely used, including by some software projects, and of course the most well known use of the name is from Greek mythology, which meant if applied to this software program, it would always be fighting for attention in search engine rankings, etc. By contrast, MailForge is not used by anything else. Third, Odysseus is a name easily misspelled, and MailForge isn't. Symbolically, a forge is a place where something is created, even crafted... appropriate for a program that will be used to craft email, and I would add that having a name with "mail" in it is a sensible bit of clarity, although having an unusual name didn't seem to hurt Eudora's popularity.

Of course, at least in the opinion of its many aficionados, Eudora had been consistently seen as the best-of-breed email application for both Mac OS X and Windows with features not found in other email applications or, if they were, not implemented as elegantly.

Eudora Changes Hands

Late in 2006, Qualcomm announced that it had ceased development of Eudora and turned the brand name and further development responsibility over to Mozilla.org, with future versions of "Eudora" to be based on Mozilla's own Thunderbird email engine, the latter which classic Eudora users have traditionally considered not nearly as satisfactory an email program as classic Eudora.

Infinity Data Systems contends that only an application written from the ground up can adequately succeed a program as great as Eudora. Many Eudora fans agree and have been eagerly anticipating the day when Odysseus/MailForge reached the point where it could gracefully receive and carry the torch passed from Eudora.

However, MailForge has big boots to fill. Classic Eudora, which dates back in development continuity almost to the dawn of the public Internet, is one of the most refined pieces of software I've ever used. It's as comfortable as a favorite pair of slippers after all those years of familiarity. In my estimation, it's as close to perfection as an email client has ever been.

In theory, MailForge is intended to share the same advantages as Eudora - the features, options, and capabilities that users have come to rely on, as well as addressing areas where Eudora had started to lag behind, such as integration with more recent individual operating system versions that it runs on. In my experience, classic Eudora has not been a happy camper on the PowerPC version of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and it has refused to work on my new Intel-based MacBook, specifically to send or receive email over my dialup connection.

Alas, development of MailForge has proceeded more slowly than we (and indeed IDS) had hoped. Currently, the most recent public release is 1.0 Beta 19, changes in which include a completely rewritten IMAP module, improvements to the Classic Mode interface, better handling of certain Latin and Greek encodings, and improvements when transferring email from one mailbox to another. The minimum system requirement is Mac OS X 10.4.11.

MailForge 1.0 Nearly Ready

A May 12 IDS blog says that MailForge 1.0 final is nearly ready, with final test builds seeded to select individuals who are helping the developers finalize a couple of remaining issues.

With 1.0 nearly done, IDS has announced a definitive date that preregistration will end - May 31st. Version 1.0 is projected to be available on Monday, June 1, so preregistration has morphed into "Early Activation". Early activation will continue through June 7th, with full price going into effect on June 8th.

Eudora 8 Is Ready

Meanwhile, due to classic Eudora's refusal to work on my MacBook, I've been obliged to switch to Thunderbird, which I chose partly due to the fact that Mozilla's Eudora 8.0 is supported seamlessly by the T-bird user configuration and settings, and I've been hanging on to hope that the Open Source Eudora would eventually become a more satisfactory tool - and guess what?

After the shock of Eudora withdrawal and getting used to Thunderbird, I've come to appreciate it more, and it's been doing a good job for me, and in general I've been getting along quite happily. Then when I downloaded the latest Eudora 8.0 beta 6 last week, I discovered that it now works just as well and is nearly as stable as the Thunderbird 2.0.0.21 build I've been using as my production email client - I've had a couple of back-to-back program lockups that required Force Quit, but both caused my my ham-fistedness confusing the application.

After nearly a week of using it, I'm pretty confident in saying I've probably switched to Eudora 8.0, at least for the present. Classic Eudora it's not, but the Eudora icons have a very comfortable "homey" feel, and it's like a return to second nature going for that familiar Eudora icon in the Dock.

I haven't given up on the idea of MailForge, and I'm looking forward to trying out the version 1.0 final release, but there's no harm in having two good choices in an email client. I can affirm without reservation that Eudora 8.0 is now a very decent one. LEM

Appendix: MailForge FAQ

It's been a bit quiet - but that's because we've been hard at work tweaking and polishing MailForge. As a result, 1.0 is nearly done. We're seeding final test builds to select individuals who are helping us finalize the last couple of remaining issues.

With 1.0 nearly done, we also want to announce the definitive date that preregistration will end - May 31st. 1.0 will be available prior to that, so preregistration will morph into "Early Activation." Either way however, the half price introductory offer will end May 31st, with full price going into effect on June 1st.

Odysseus to MailForge

In anticipation of the official release of MailForge, we are pleased to announce the following pricing structure:

  • Single User License: $39.95 - This will be for the entire MailForge 1.x product cycle.
  • Upgrade License: $19.95 - This will be for full version releases, such as going from version 1.x to 2. While we are estimating major version upgrades every year or so, if they occur in under a year's time, that upgrade will be free for users of the previous version.

Preregistration

  • $19.95 - Beginning April 15th, 2008 this option is available to individuals who would like to receive a license to MailForge at a discounted price. Originally set to expire on August 11th, the preregistration offer has been extended. Anyone who pre-registers will receive a license to the final version of MailForge at approximately half price.

Educational, Government, & Nonprofit Licensing

  • $19.95 for 1 - 150 copies
  • $18.95 for 151 - 300 copies
  • $17.95 for 301 - 500 copies

In the months since announcing the MailForge Project, we've received a wide range of questions and requests. Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked:

Is MailForge based on the Eudora code base?

No. One of the reasons that Qualcomm did not release Eudora to the open source community, or sell it to another company, was due to there being a large portion of licensed code in the Eudora code base. As the license holder for that code, Qualcomm was not in a position to simply hand that code over to anyone else. That's why even the Thunderbird/Eudora 8 effort being headed up by the Mozilla Foundation is not based on the original code base, but is instead an attempt to modify a copy of the Thunderbird code base to mimic Eudora.

Is MailForge open source software?

No. Infinity Data Systems, LLC is a commercial software company. That doesn't mean that we don't offer some software for free. For example, the SimpleBooks line of software that we recently acquired is being made available for free. However, in the case of MailForge, it is commercial software.

Is MailForge cross-platform?

Yes. MailForge is being developed with support for Mac OS X and Windows. We are also working on Linux compatibility for a future release.

Will my favorite Eudora feature be included in MailForge?

Most likely. If it's currently in Eudora, chances are it will also be in MailForge. Our goal with 1.0 is to recreate the most commonly used features, with more and more of the extremely advanced (and sometimes obscure) features being added with each update.

Will there be options for Educational or Volume Licensing?

If you would like information on Educational or Volume Licensing, visit our Pricing page for detailed information...

Can I get MailForge cheaper?

A preregistration option is available to individuals who would like to receive a license to MailForge at a discounted price. Anyone who pre-registers will receive a license (and serial number) to the final version of MailForge at approximately half price.

I pre-registered MailForge - why haven't I received my serial number?

If it's been over 12 hours since purchasing, chances are there has been a filtering issue with the server that handles your incoming email. Please contact our Billing Department so that we can make sure you receive it.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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